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Haiti

In America, a televangelist is claiming that Haiti made a pact with the Devil.

I'm not exactly sure why he, or anyone, would want to say such a thing right about now, but I doubt someone like Pat Robertson needs much in the way of compassion or understanding or common sense. In the New York Times, Commander Diane W. Durham is reported as being the commander of the first American vessel to reach the devastation. "From the port," she said, "not many burning fires [are] visible in the capital, but collapsed buildings [are] everywhere in sight. It is hard to look out in this harbor and see a building that has not been affected, from the waterfront up the hills to the larger buildings.”

In Port-au-Prince, many piers had collapsed into the harbor and oil had spilled into the water, Commander Durham said, but there did not appear to be obstructions in the channel leading into the port, meaning that other American or foreign relief ships should be able to approach the area. For now, though, there is no easy way to land rescue supplies from ships, she said.

Off the ship, and on the ground, it is much worse.

Huge swaths of the capital, Port-au-Prince, lay in ruins, and thousands of people were feared dead in the rubble of government buildings, foreign aid offices and shantytowns. Limbs protruded from piles of disintegrated concrete, and muffled cries emanated from deep inside the wrecks of buildings, as this impoverished nation struggled to grasp the grim, still unknown toll from its worst earthquake in more than 200 years.

Scenes of destruction defined the city. Concrete homes collapsed on hillsides. Hospitals overflowed with victims. The Canape Vert hospital was surrounded by collapsed buildings.

With the electricity and phone service out and supplies of fresh water dwindling, The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said Haiti was facing a “major humanitarian emergency.” With 14 United Nations peacekeepers confirmed dead and more than 100 workers missing, the organization was in mourning and flying its own flag at half-staff.

The Haitian president, René Préval, told The Miami Herald that the toll was “unimaginable” and estimated that thousands had died. Among those feared dead were the chief of the United Nations mission in Haiti and Msgr. Joseph Serge Miot, the archbishop of the capital, Port-au-Prince.

The quake struck just before 5 p.m. Tuesday about 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, ravaging the infrastructure of Haiti’s fragile government and destroying some of its most important cultural symbols. The domed white presidential palace and the cathedral collapsed, the Ministry of Justice was destroyed, and the country’s national prison suffered extensive damage, a United Nations spokesman said.

“Parliament has collapsed,” Mr. Préval was quoted as saying. “The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed. There are a lot of schools that have a lot of dead people in them.”

“All of the hospitals are packed with people,” he added. “It is a catastrophe.”


Victoria really should fix that fire warning.

(crossposted)